MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed treason and espionage cases against former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV.
In the 16-page resolution, the Office of the Ombudsman said it did not find probable cause for treason and espionage, and there was no evidence to prove that there was conspiracy between Aquino and Trillanes in backchannel talks to ease tension during the Scarborough standoff with China in 2012.
“Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of felony and decide to commit it. Having resolved against the individual culpability of President Aquino and Senator Trillanes, the conspiracy theory advanced by complainants must therefore fail,” the resolution dated Feb. 24 read.
“Wherefore the present complaint is dismissed,” it added.
A number of complainants accused Aquino and Trillanes of violating Article 114, Treason, and Article 117, Espionage, of the Revised Penal Code.
Complainants Gen. Roberto Lastimoso, Enrico Sampang, Judge Moslemen Macarambon, former Rep. Ronald Adamat and Dioscoro Esteban, Jr. filed the case against the two officials on May 6, 2016.
The complainants questioned the backchannel negotiations done by Trillanes with the Chinese representatives in connection with the standoff in the Scarborough Shoal.
They alleged that Trillanes meddled in the country’s foreign affairs and placed the country’s national security at risk by messing up the issues and peddling misinformation.
“Treason is a war crime. It is not an all-time offense…While there is peace, there are no traitors. There must be actual hostilities…Backchannel negotiations with China cannot be construed as ‘giving aid to enemy,’” the ombudsman said.
“As a result of the intense stand-off in April and May 2012 between Chinese and Philippines vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, President Aquino’s action of exploring means of peacefully settling the ongoing issue with China was for the interest of the Philippines,” it added.
The ombudsman said it is an inherent presidential power to pursue negotiations with other states.
It said that Trillanes merely acted under Aquino’s instruction to negotiate with Chinese representatives “in order to ease the escalating tension between the two states.”
It added that the aggressive posturing of China was made known as early as May 23, 2012, while the backchanel negotiation of Trillanes and the Chinese representatives only started on May 12.
Trillanes welcomed the ombudsman’s recent resolution.
The decision proves our point from the very start that the case was merely filed to harass and tarnish my reputation. This is what happens when your political opponents start to believe their own propaganda. But no matter how they twist the facts, in the end, the truth will always come out,” Trillanes said in a release.